Have we gone Krazy?  Is it really time to begin your shopping for the holiday season?  Even the stores wait until after Halloween before they start hanging up the green and red décor!  Isn't it too soon to talk about holiday shopping?

To an Extreme Couponer, shopping for the holidays takes place all year long.  Just like you buy toothpaste when it is a screaming deal (instead of when you need it), you want to approach your holiday shopping the same way.

School Clearance Sales:  Ah, the silence in the house now that the kids are in school is delicious.  Revel in it for a moment.  OK, time's up.  Now, get shopping!  Check out the clearance sections in the stores you frequent.  You'll find plenty of "school supply" stocking stuffers at deeply discounted prices.

Bicycle Sales:  While the bicycle stores are making room for the newest models, you can take full advantage of reduced prices on last year's models.  Unlike clothing ("Mom, that was so last season!"), your youngsters are less likely to realize their brand new bikes are 2011 leftovers.  If it has a superhero on it, my boy loves it – last season or no!

Kitchen Item Sales:  Hot Tip:  you'll want to print this off and leave it "accidentally" where your hubby can find it if new pots and pans are on your holiday wish list.  We didn't just finish up the summer season but the wedding season as well.  I did a quick peek to see what was out there and, sure enough, at a high-end dinnerware store I found flatware online at over 75% off, dinnerware at 65% off, and a super-cute Christmas platter (left over from last year, I'm sure) at 64% off that will be arriving at my house shortly (hazards of a job like this, I guess!).

Grills:  While these are hard to disguise in the garage until December (and even harder to wrap!), grills are a must-buy in September/October.  Wait a touch longer on these – more toward early October – to see the prices drop even further if you can stand the excitement and anticipation.

Toy Sales:  We all know there are some amazing sales right around the holidays (and right after!)  However, if you have a kiddo who is asking for an item you know will be in high demand this year, take advantage of the toy sales that happen in late September/early October.  Don't wait for the best sale (did she really just say that?) if you think the item might sell out.  A Lego City Space Center in the hand is worth two in the sold-out online bush.  (Just ask me about the year of the "Lego Police Car" fiasco sometime.)   Hit the sales in September rather than try to move mountains in December if you know what that one special toy for the year will be for the little ones on your list.

On a budget?  It becomes even more important to divide your holiday spending up over these next four months (instead of the four weeks before the holidays or – dare we say it? – the last four days!)

And the best part of starting holiday shopping now?  You can probably find a parking spot.  Happy shopping!

This has been a guest post by Rebecca from Highland Ranch, CO
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